Helena Almeida’s Drawing (with pigment) – Review In Context:

Drawing (with pigment) 1995-9 by Helena Almeida born 1934Helena Almeida’s “Drawing (with pigment)” drawn in a small series with charcoal or pastel and ink. Like most of her work, Almeida’s drawing depicts her own body, here specifically her hands as she draws, they are outlines of her physical movements and actions she undertakes in her studio. Almeida confessed a particular interest in her extremities as “We look at the body and see that it ends abruptly at the feet and hands. It finishes there. There’s nothing more- it’s like the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea.” The one particular image I prefer; is of both her hands on the top third of the page in simple, brief lines. The most complex area is the cloud of pastel in the open palm of one hand drawing a hair-thin line across to connect to her other hand holding the pen.

Where most of her work, if not all have some form of connection to her body: she claims “My work is my body, my body is my work.” Her main medias cover painting, photography and drawing although she persists with the idea of her body as “the canvas”, her ‘self –representation’ as a photograph of her wearing a canvas with her arms outstretched in the standard Christ position, looking down.

Although she did turn to three dimensional sketching with “Horsehair threads”, which she refers to as “drawing outwards”, she brought together her main three media including this form of drawing, in the 1975 as she experimented from “design to cinema, from paintings to comics, from photography to sculpture, from architecture to performance.”

Her creation and attitude towards the sense of self is complimentary to Stuart Brisley, most particularly in his “ZL636595c” which was a performance ZL636595c Gallery House London 1972 by Stuart Brisley born 1933piece where he sat alone without contact of information from radio/tv/books or human contact from 11AM 30th March 1972 until 7PM 15 April 1972. There are now a series of photographs depicting his time in the room, and a short review of the project by himself; where he quotes the oxford dictionary of the two phrases “exist” and “survive”. Where Brisley frames and singularises the self to bring out its extremes, Almeida focuses on the physical self, by including it in everything she does and making it the only thing that matters.

The “Drawing(with pigment)” draws your eye to the only relatable part of the image by making it the human hands, what they are doing is only a secondary observation, the ‘plane’ behind them is questionable as to whether it is the paper she drawing on or the boundaries of the drawing is currently making, i.e. the drawing itself. There are —- other drawing in the series with the same name: they are all of her hand s in varying poses as she draws, all done in ink. Although the use of pastel changes in each; one such use is the shadows of her hand, the paper, perhaps a media she is moulding, or its simply for creating her “drawing outwards” technique, other times the media in which she apparently working; holding blobs in her hands or having her hands coloured by it.

I chose this particular image because it was simple but eloquent and it covered the necessity to start somewhere when you draw.





The vanity of small differences

GP363_Lamentation_2012-FULLAt the Temple Newsam House in Leeds, there is currently an exhibition by Greyson Perry, “The Vanity of small differences.” It is a series of tapestries in mockery of William Hogarth’s “A Rake’s Progress” from 1735. Hogarth follows the rise and fall of Tom Rakewell paintings and engravings: Rakewell is a young man who falls prey to the fashions and foolishness of his time; an unhealthy mix of youth, money, lust and a city. Perry reflects this with Tim Rakewell: who comes from a common birth of a young mother and a runaway dad to a stereotypical infamous death by car accident and a ripe old age with a young new wife.

There are six tapestries following his life, all borne from Perry’s study and research into the class differences and ‘taste’ differences of males and females of the ‘common’ class. He focused around Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and the Cotswolds. The tapestries were made along with the documentary series “All in the Best Possible Taste.”

They move from the circumstances of his birth, to the marriage of his mother to his step father, to his girlfriend and her family, to making his own (accompanied with the death of his mother.), to having a mansion in the Cotswolds as they are New money, (Not upper-class), before finally Tim’s death in “#Lamentation”.

My favourite would be the last one; focusing on Tim’s death, although the narration is from the woman who tries to help; who was walking past. She notes that “All he said to me was “Mother.”” Coming full circle, as the woman bears a resemblance to the image of his mother in the first tapestry. The last comment is “All that money and he dies in the gutter.” Rewording the fact that money doesn’t stop you from dying, a fact we all seem to ignore, as the social classes grow wider and the difference in ‘taste’ is dictated to us by circumstance. Making us Tim Rakewell obsessed with money, of rising through the ranks.

Liverpool Biennial:

Maquette of a Monument Symbolising the Liberation of the Spirit 1952 by Antoine Pevsner 1884-1962We attended the 8th Liverpool Biennial: or rather we checked out two of the galleries that were included in the exhibition; the Tate and the Bluecoat. We rather ran out of time. Although we did manage to check of the James Moores Painting prize exhibition and the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2014 as well.

The “A Needle walks into a Haystack” exhibition was spread out over five galleries with 4 other partner exhibitions, all dotted around Liverpool. There was an artist James McNeill Whistler in the Bluecoat Gallery, His work was mainly watercolours, although there was fantastically huge board wall painted with blue and gold peacocks surrounded by china in various shapes and designs. Although the exhibit was dark and a little dreary to look through, the work was awesome. I more than wish that Whister was alive to control the surrounding s of the gallery like he had when he made exhibitions for his work; colour coding the walls and drapes and the staff’s uniforms, making and designing the furniture and hanging up his images on a line across the room. It would have been far more suitable.

The Bloomberg New Contempories was a nice enough gallery, although we did not get time enough to go around much of it.Curtain 1980 by Philip Guston 1913-1980

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe James Moores painting prize was interesting although rather pompous; the first prize winner had a strange image, particularly in comparison to all the others. Juliette Losq was a favourite of mine; with an image made from ink and watercolours of the side of what appears an abandoned building; the trees and bushes are especially gorgeous. Although I did appreciate Frank Pudney’s work; making patterns, and whirls much like a hurricane from people silhouettes in various shapes and tones; although all tiny. http://www.frankpudney.com/about.html

The Tate was, as usual, the best; a huge house of three floors of incredible drawings, paintings, sculptures and glorious spaces and exhibit showcasing. The main article being a Claude Parent who believed that by altering the space and the circumstances that you viewed the exhibit changed the experience and therefore your understanding of it. The work was contemporary work at its finest although I do believe that his layoutThe Painter's Family 1926 by Giorgio de Chirico 1888-1978s designs were much more exciting.

It was a theme that carried around; some works were displayed on glass frames and placed in the middle of the room on bars connecting the ceiling and the floor; you could see the back of the frame that held those priceless images by long dead and new found artists, they were very interesting to look and decipher some staff members handwriting explain what it was and where it should as it accompanied the warning signs of FRAGILE and THIS WAY UP.

Although I do now have a few new favourites; Stuart Brisley “ZL636595c”; Dorothea Tanning “pincushion to serve as Fetish” ; and Giorgio de Chrico “The painter’s family”. Why I like them, I’m not sure. Although I am finding a pattern in trying to understand the sense of self and how it exists separately in different terms to all, yet we still group ourselves; family, friends, flatmates, work mates, classmates, foreigners, teachers, clicks; goth, hipster, nerd, strangers.Pincushion to Serve as Fetish 1965 by Dorothea Tanning born 1910

Art education systems:

The study of art education and multiplicity fractured the perspective of unity in the curriculum. Bauhaus and the Black Mountain college are examples of the changes. Although they both imply great expectation on the experimentation of the art practices, and both have the influence of Dewey and Albers, in however positive of a light. Although where Bauhaus has a formal structure of education the Black Mountain college doesn’t have a design agenda for any of the school. The BMC appreciates the process of art, the material culture of the media and extrudes a “art as a way of being” lifestyle: Bauhaus on the other hand found their structure as a school through unity through principle. They all had the same structure and they all worked together.

Dewey relied on the importance of intelligence over and above reason. He believed individuals should construct and ‘negotiate’ their own view of the world, as he pressed on the idea of experimental activity in reality and creative ideas. Whereas Joseph Albers emphasis relativity of colour as material, he claimed he was teaching ‘seeing’. He wanted people to understanding the ‘visual’ empathy’ of seeing colours, not as separate things, but as contrast to form the heart of all images. When ‘visual empathy’ was understood, you could gain the ability to read the meaning of form and order. He obsessed over colour, but disliked any and all expressionist images.

Figure, ground and point:

SAM_2084Thursdays lecture was on figure and ground in its infancy, it covered the basics of the phycological study of perception and it’s growth in babies in particular. It began with defining the fact that perception is organising what you see into a visual whole; as we separate objects into solid and otherwise space. This began under the knowledge of Gestalt psychology theory of “The whole is more than the sum of it’s parts.”

Kurt Koffka was also mentioned  with the study of differentiation from 1928, which looked at the ability to tell the self same difference of visual perception and understanding, “Not to say that the child sees a luminous point; but rather that the child sees a luminous point upon a relatively indifferent background; or in the case of touch, that pressure is felt upon the hand, which before had been lacking in phenomenal distinction.”

There are a few facts of human perception; namely that humanity if programmed to see faces, like the man in the moon; ‘ambiguity’ otherwise the grouping of objects, which allows us to make patterns and understand the correlation between background and foreground. Other factors for creating patterns and understanding different images in various scenarios of the proximity, similarity, orientation, continuity and closure.

There are few other ares of visual perception that otherwise effect the ability to separate the areas of images into solidity and relativity to reality. Francisco Varela claimed “cognition can only be understood in terms of how significance rises out of the auto totality that is the organism.” He studied the inactive/active cognition of the eye to brain function. Meaning that he correlated the way we see and how that effects everything else we do. “In short the world is not something that is given to us, but something we can engage in by moving, touching, breathing and eating. This is what I call cognition as enaction.”  

I can apply this to the images of the project I am currently working on; as they are, for the moment, simple pointillist images of various tones of ink, merely something to look at. I wanted to make the work again but prominently for blind, if not only for them. I planned on making the image again in wax or glue; or trying through technology as soon as i figure out how. Although I did some research into trying to find if any one else had produced anything similar to help me along;  Roy Nachum came up. A short video of his exhibition was played on tho site and after watching it, i realised i was trying to aggravate a situation that had already done so in the opposing way, however intentionally. I need to find a better way.

Pointallism drawing:

WP_20141014_008 During my tutorial I was given the advice of picking a method or ‘style’ and interrogating it. As I have produced a few different methods of ‘drawing’ and haven’t looked into any of them in any detail, just passing flights of what could i use this for and how would i apply it to make this?…

My recent favourite has been the pointillist drawing in ink of the pigeons, the top image is on A4 paper, whereas the bottom one is the top third of A3. As scale was something else I should WP_20141014_003explore, as even on A3, previously, I have been making small sketches and doodles.

The idea of blind art ahs been nagging me since I looked into the galleries. I was advised to use it and try to introduce it to this project; although the question of how since nobody really touches pigeons. As it is a ‘social taboo’. Hence I’m going to try to apply it to the pointillism, with wax or a glue gun. Namely since my tutor suggested the problem of “What is a drawing if you can’t see it?”

I rather want to find out.

So I’m going to try to make the previous images into some invisible 3-d format, perhaps of wire or glue. Although I am going still keep exploring other avenues too; the tonal drawings of feathers and scaling drawings larger while the image gets smaller.

Multiplicity and pluralism:

WP_20141014_006Our monday morning lecture was on multiplicity and pluralism; otherwise concerning the relationship of the one and the many. It covered the separation of the modernists and their application of the new disruption in “the unity of things”. As in: to not have a grand theory of everything: merely excepting various ways of excepting small truths, which became the ground for post-modern thought.

This led to the contemplation of the truth, to theorise it in smaller pockets of the world, rather to explain all in one method. Whereas Henry Adams, “worried that change, variety and the unbridled acceleration of experience, might dispose the energy that the nation and its people could muster to face a challenging reality”, during the WWI era. He claimed that a unity of the people was needed socially, and that this change in thought only made the social barriers wider.

This dissolved into ‘political’ and ‘politics’; the emotional, complex multiplicity of experiences of human kind, and the unified whole. It is William James, who coined “stream of consciousness”, who said “consciousness, then, does not appear to itself as chopped up in bits… its nothing joined; it flows.” Claiming that the human mind does not think in pieces, but as a whole. Although this brought up the question of the spectrum of places and time: reality, that thought separately, but only worked, as we know it, in time with each other: hence consciousness.

This idea of multiplicity gave way to other theories; atheism, anomalies in scientific pleasure, moving away from the sovereign individual (from self to a self-made of social conventions); and new concepts made to revolve around the beauty of day-to-day rather than one ‘true’ beauty.

Although now our ‘contemporary’ culture focus on that difference;focused on keeping conflict, as a unified whole. Such as equal rights movements and protests. (Like women’s rights and the protests made against the world trade organisation.)

It makes the point that our society is not a special one, nor is it going to last; but it is an experience as any other and that experience should therefore be shared. After all what is art if not made for the viewer.